Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Smell Of Money

With depressing regularity, once again Scottish Football will be feeling the pinch with the news about Setanta’s attempt to re-negotiate it’s new deal for exclusive live coverage of the SPL… followed closely by the next episode in the will they won’t they saga about the Old Firm moving to the English Premiership.

Firstly, Setanta appear to have come to the conclusion that like the rest of the country, it has slightly overreached itself. Not the most surprising piece of news, considering it has been trying to re-negotiate its contract with the English FA over the rights to England games and the FA Cup. It does however seem as if that Scottish football is in constant financial trouble, it was only last week that Clyde managed to negotiate it’s arrears with North Lanarkshire Council. This does not help the situation, but at least there is no hyper inflation of players value's like there is in England.

It is this hyper inflation which has exasperated the differences between the SPL and the EP, and it is fear of this bubble bursting a la the mortgage market in this country which has led to Phil Gartside, the Bolton Wanderers chairman making suggestions about re-organising the EP.

His proposals include a second tier for the Premiership, with a slimmed down 18 team top league. More worryingly his proposals also include inviting the Old Firm to join the league in the “lower” tier. It cannot be understated how much damage to the unique culture of British football would be caused if this proposal were to happen. This would essentially mean the beginning of the end of the English, Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh national sides competing at UEFA and FIFA events.

It would be tempting for the Old Firm to join, they would get a cut of the television riches, which would mean better players. This ignores the fact that the Old Firm have been here before, and squandered their riches on duff foreign footballers, which contributed to the squeezing of Scottish talent from about 1993 to the first implosion of TV revenues in 2002.

However, I hope that they won’t go. Some of their fans have given this a luke warm response, perhaps they understand that this would be as big a threat, if not a bigger threat to the Scotland national team as a UK team in the 2012 Olympics, perhaps they realise that despite what the Desmond’s and the Murray’s think, money isn’t everything, or perhaps they see that the real winners won’t be the ordinary football fan.

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